Twitter is not the problem. Porn is.

Twitter isn't the problem.

I stared at the screen, horrified. Sometimes you wish you can un-see words. I had read Vicky Beeching’s recent blog post detailing the some of the Twitter abuse she had received following her support of the #LoseTheLadsMags Twitter campaign. It made my jaw drop to see the extent of the vile and misogynistic tweets. I had read of the appalling response to Caroline Criado-Perez’s bank notes campaign, and had been shocked by it. But this time they were targeting my friend, and it brought it home in a whole new way. I felt sick.
 

These were my questions:
– Why do some men think it’s okay to write obscene things to women and threaten rape?
– Why were there some women who were jumping to the defence of lads’ mags?
 

I had a browse around the underbelly of Twitter, and I got my answer.
 

Scrolling down the tweets of one of the worst offenders, I found a slew of similarly lewd tweets he had sent to other women. They had not protested.
 

One had thanked him. She was a glamour model and had over 50,000 followers.
 

And suddenly it started to make sense. If your entire Twitter interaction with women is to make lewd comments to glamour models or porn stars, it is not that you switch into a different, abusive gear when you interact with a Vicky Beeching or a Caroline Criado-Perez – it is your normal way of being, and a completely reasonable way to converse.
 

In the eyes of the Twitter abusers, it seems the world of women is divided up into two categories: models with big breasts who like to be ‘naughty’ and encourage you to lust after them, versus angry, ugly feminists who resent the models and want to take porn and Lads’ Mags away and spoil everyone’s masturbatory fun. And, really, all women always want sex with you, and if they don’t, well, they should be forced. They need to be put in their place.
 

There are some who say, ‘What’s the problem with Lads’ Mags? It’s just a bit of naughty fun. It’s not oppressing women – the women who are modelling feel great about themselves.’
 

And the answer is this: porn affects all women, not just those in the magazines. It turns all women into objects and depersonalises them. You just need a cursory glance at the Twitter abuse thrown at feminists this fortnight to see that.
 

Jesus once said, “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45b) If Twitter is society’s mouthpiece, then our collective heart is very sick.
 

*****
 

The destructive lie of pornography
 

Porn is normal, and by normal, I mean that it has become ubiquitous, not that is is healthy. I was once party to a conversation where soldiers’ wives were choosing the best porn magazines to send to their men away at war. One soldier’s mother had helpfully sent a few magazines to her daughter-in-law. They were chatting about it like it was the most natural thing in the world.
 

Studies have shown:

  • There is a strong connection between pornography and devaluing women’s rights in society. The more porn you watch, the less likely you are to be sympathetic to women’s rights.*
  •  

  • There is a strong connection between pornography and violence against women.
    The best-selling adult DVDs have acts of sexual violence on average every 90 seconds. The vast majority of these are men being violent to women. What about non-violent porn? Men – and, surprisingly, women – exposed to non-violent porn for just six weeks thought that rape was a lesser crime and deserved a shorter prison sentence than they did at the start of the study.
  •  

    But what about Lads’ Mags? They’re not so bad, surely? In a recent study, members of the public were shown extracts from articles about women in Lads’ Mags, and quotes from convicted rapists. They found it difficult to tell which was which because they were so similar. Lads Mags and rapists use the same language to talk about women.

     

    Porn tells the lie that women are merely objects for male sexual gratification.
    It tells the lie that sex is something you get, you purchase, you demand as your right; rather than a physical expression and celebration of faithful love, mutually given.
    It tells the lie that it is acceptable to treat women as property, to lust after them, because they enjoy it.
    It tells the lie that women are constantly desirous of sexual attention and will be grateful for it.

    We are in a porn culture, and we’ve believed the lie for so long we’ve forgotten it’s a lie.
     

    ****
     

    What should we do?
     

    Many people were asking: Why should women campaigning about bank notes be the victims of such horrific rape threats?
     

    Perhaps there is something in the timing of events:

     

    The success of the feminist bank note campaign was sandwiched between two stories that target porn. The public are just waking up to the harmful effects of porn, and saying we need to curb it. The offensive tweets came from people who feed that industry – both viewers and models. What Vicky Beeching and others faced in the last fortnight was the backlash of a huge and powerful industry which is starting to feel under threat.
     

    There will inevitably be conversations now about the fear of over-censorship, the right to freedom of speech, and these are important discussions to have. But let’s not get side-tracked. The time has come to fight the spread of porn.
     

    *****
     

    We’re shocked when we see the abusive and lewd nature of the tweets and the threats that feminists have received. We’re right to be shocked, because this is terrible (and sometimes criminal) behaviour. But we shouldn’t be surprised.
     

    Much of the debate has focused on Twitter, and how people respond in a different way when they’re on social media to how they do in ‘real life’. There is definitely a case for this, but we need to remember that these misogynistic and threatening comments do not just happen on Twitter, they happen in ‘real life’. They happen in business meetings, behind the backs of female colleagues. They happen in factories and police headquarters. They erupt violently behind closed doors in respectable looking homes.
     

    Twitter does not cause this horrible abuse: it reveals it. This past fortnight Twitter has held up a mirror to our porn-riddled society. And it is not a pretty picture.
     

    Twitter is not the problem. Porn is.

     

     

    For further reading and excellent analysis of the research into the effects of porn:
    Jon Marlow – Chill out, it’s just porn.

     
    *(71% of men in control group supported women’s rights at the end of the study, versus 48% in the intermediate group and just 25% of men in the ‘massive exposure’ to porn group. It’s worth noting that the ‘massive exposure’ was 5 hours of porn videos per week, an amount which is seen now as ‘average’.)

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    59 Responses to Twitter is not the problem. Porn is.

    1. Brit 5th August, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

      Tanya, I think this is great to raise the issues which we are facing more and more and I agree with so much of what you have written and appreciate so much the references you make too. The one thing I disagree with is the general statement that porn users are like rapists. I think it is way too complex a subject to draw that conclusion from the research. People watch porn for a variety of reasons – indeed I know women who have been raped who do watch porn out of choice and do not feel it pertains to their rape in any way. In the same way, people (men and women) rape for a whole complex variety of reasons, not all of them will be porn users nor use the language of pornography or the behaviours they have seen whilst watching porn.
      I think there is no simple solution but what I do think is that by even raising this as a discussion helps to raise awareness of the victim blaming mentality that is so prevalent in our society and it allows for more open and informed discussion with those we need to have it with (friends, sons, brothers, husbands). Thank you for such a thoughtful and thought provoking post

      • Tanya 6th August, 2013 at 10:14 am #

        Hi Brit.

        Just to clarify, I didn’t say that porn users are like rapists, but that there is a strong connection between porn and violence against women. Of course there are others factors in why men rape, but the research shows a desensitisation to the severity of crimes of violence against women. This is why it should be taken seriously. I think we are in a ‘rape culture’ at the moment, and porn and Lads’ Mags are certainly going a long way to make that kind of talk and behaviour normalised. While I am sure there are some who view porn and it has little or no negative effect on them, we need to remember that they are the minority, and we should be making policy decisions based on the effects it has on the majority.

        I totally agree that there is a problem with the victim-blaming mentality of society! I really hope there can be a culture shift. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment.

    2. Jim Danner 5th August, 2013 at 7:41 pm #

      As a pastor and counselor my observations are that porn causes men to dehumanize women and has a seriously detrimental effect on a married couples’ physical relationship. It is training men to view women as merely sexual beings rather than spiritual, emotional, intellectual bearers of the image of God.

      • Tanya 6th August, 2013 at 10:49 am #

        Thank you so much for sharing from your experience. This is really helpful.

    3. Adam Moore 5th August, 2013 at 6:36 pm #

      Porn is most certainly perpetuating the problem with some mens dispicable attitude towards women but it would be incredibly nieve to suggest it is the sole or even main cause for this attitude. Let’s not forget that in the past before porn even existed, extreme misogyny and chauvinism towards women was just commonplace in mainstream society so believe it or not, things have got better in that respect. As for the studies mentioned on men who watch porn and their consequencing attitudes to women, I and the majority of men I personally know are exceptions to it’s apparent findings so I would be skeptical as I am most of the time I see “studdies have shown”. I do not by any way mean to undermine the argument, I do recognise the negative effects of porn in a psychological sence to it’s viewers, I just feel that blaming porn for this terrible attitude towards women is like blaming violent films or hip-hop music for gang violence. There are much deeper routed reasons and often personal reasons to why some men still view women in this way. Here is an article I read a few days ago which I feel has the right outlook on the subject.
      http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/the-truth-about-pornography-its-time-for-a-rude-awakening-8735043.html

      • Tanya 6th August, 2013 at 10:27 am #

        I am certainly not saying that the only reason men rape or are sexist is because of porn. However, I think it is naive to suppose that porn plays no part in it, particularly when the research indicates otherwise. The issue is desensitisation.

        I think there’s always a danger in basing our policy on what our experience/friends’ experience is, and believing it to be the norm. It could well be that you and your friends are in that minority of men whose views of women are relatively unaffected by porn. That should surely mean that you should be supportive of making porn more difficult to access for the sake of those who are not as balanced or rational as you. An opt-in clause will mean that you can phone up your company and ask for it to allow porn, safe in the knowledge that just making it that extra step more difficult to access might stop others from being addicted or protect children from being exposed to images of violent porn (children is a whole other issue, I know.)

        As far as whether things are getting better, I think it depends how you measure it. It’s better than it was a hundred years ago, but it’s worse than it was twenty years ago. This is why feminism is on the up again – and we need to listen to that. Think about the recent case of the girl in small-town america who was raped by teenage boys at a party. There were rape jokes made by the party-goers, both online and offline. This is new.

        I read the article you mentioned. There is definitely a problem with violent porn now being the norm. Having access to sites that offer only non-violent porn is perhaps a start.

      • Chris 10th August, 2013 at 5:46 am #

        Adam,

        Porn by it’s very nature escalates into deeper and more perverse material. It is natural to be psychologically (or spiritually which is the same thing) affected by influences in the media (just ask advertisers $$). The point is we are influenced by porn in our feelings, which inform our attitudes, which in turn will affect our actions. This basic point is well established in other areas where corporations put this information to use to make money. Sexual habits of the average male in society have become increasingly “pornified” with increased exposure and accessibility to porn.

        At its very essence the viewing of porn is the act of being worshiped. Nothing is asked of you but to be present, no risk, no tangled relationships. It is the destruction and demeaning of beauty- the consumption of human beings. We porn viewers make insatiable volcano gods that require more and more virgins in an unending parade to temporarily satiate us. The fundamental psycho-spiritual problem is we place ourselves in the role of God.

        It is impossible to enjoy viewing women being used up one after another and not have your attitude changed.

        This may not always be immediately obvious to the individual due to other psychological phenomena such as dissociation. Many addicts (porn or otherwise) have a “Mr. Hyde” to go along with their “Dr. Jekyll”.

    4. Herm 5th August, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

      On the surface I whole heartedly agree with you Tanya. I admire the strength you exhibit by being so open and empathetic. As a man bending under the pressure of a patriarchal society I worry that the problem is much deeper and more complex than being able to point out one alluring source, such as porn, as the problem. If we were to believe in the principles of capitalism porn would not exist without the consumer. I wish for an opportunity to pledge allegiance to more than the feminist movement. Why can’t we have an “equaligist movement” to share our much needed unity through? Why can’t we see that productively working together while sharing our differences equally is healthiest for all of mankind?

      It is too easy to blame the surface symptom for our body’s weakness rather than search out the cancerous source. We are neither a patriarchal nor a matriarchal body of mankind. We are a body of mankind whose health is dependent upon the equal sharing of all our differences in a productive manner which behooves the whole rather than just any one. I submit that every form of social networking is not the problem to mankind but each serves to highlight the symptoms as I believe you begin to allude to.

      No one should be belittled and demeaned. We must for our selfish sake attempt to nurse everyone of our neighbors up to full contributing health. I am mad as hell that any of us would relegate another to subservience to our will and pleasure as a lesser important “outsider” or “other”; but we do, why?

      • Tanya 6th August, 2013 at 10:34 am #

        Of course porn is just one of the factors that goes into misogyny, but I think it is an increasingly important issues. Of course there is always misogyny, but porn is acting as a catalyst and a ‘permission-giver’. We need to ask ourselves why violent porn, which twenty years ago would have been viewed as ‘extreme’, is now the norm. We need to ask why teenage boys think it’s okay to rape a drunken teenage girl at a party and see it as ‘messing about’ whilst making rape jokes.

        I was a bit confused by your ‘equaligist’ movement: as far as I am concerned, feminism is about seeking equal rights for women. That is about equality. I’m not arguing for a matriarchy here. The issue is that we are in a sexist society and that it seems to be getting worse than it did twenty years ago, not better. Any efforts to make a more equal society need to address the oppression of women.

        Thanks very much for stopping by.

        • Herm 6th August, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

          Tanya, thank you for taking the time to respond to so many of us. You don’t understand what I am concerned about. It is not “equal rights for women” that concerns me nearly as much as equal recognition for all by all. Designating rights for any demeaned segment of humanity and banning pornography are issues of legislation rather than education. No one person should ever subjugate another person, of any age or gender, to a lesser status than themselves laws or no laws. It makes more sense for human beings to potentially achieve the most of their short lifetimes by accepting and utilizing all the possible positive resources, especially by supporting and be supported by their fellow human beings equally, that is available to them unfettered. That logic lesson ingrained at childhood plus not placing stigmas on people because they are different while opening forums for honest discussion to teach love and respect can be the healing prescription.
          Laws tend to isolate those most in need who then must search for answers to their problems alone and that is more dangerous. My heart believes that we do have to isolate those who would do harm until they know better in heart and mind but that such legislation is never the solution to our teaching the value of love and respect for all God has gifted us responsibility to.
          In singling out porn as the evil rather than a symptom and to attempt to legislate it out of existence, in my projecting mind, is futile. To get to the root of the attraction subjugating and demeaning porn (male, female, child, and adult) holds over so very many takes more more effort than simply banning porn. Defining that root malady is the only possible way to finally diagnose and heal a societal illness.
          Hating women, “Misogyny”, is very simply not a factor of pornography. Most sexual perversions rarely have anything to do with gender or anything sexual but do have very much to do with a sense of inadequacy as a human being (nature or nurture?). Mental self stimulation of hormones and glands is a distraction from the real problem.
          I am fairly certain I know where you are coming from and I, again, have to say I am really amazed at the strength you exhibit by initiating and responding to this difficult issue. Thank you!

          • Tanya 10th August, 2013 at 10:36 am #

            Thanks for taking the time to clarify!

    5. Catherine T. 5th August, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

      Wow, thanks for this great post. It inspired me to find an educational YouTube for teens. I’ll be sharing it with my 14-year-old son, so he understands that pornography isn’t just harmless entertainment. Schools should be educating teens about how pornography destroys relationships and lives! I’m glad this resource is available to parents like me.
      Here’s the link if anyone else is interested. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvUwEVJt0KM

      • Tanya 6th August, 2013 at 10:54 am #

        Thank you! And thanks for the link – looks like a great resource. My husband taught about porn in our church youth group. We definitely need to be discussing these things with our young people.

    6. Karmen 5th August, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

      Totally agree with this post. I believe that men who expose themselves to porn regularly not only warp their own view of woman, love and love making, they also desensitise themselves. Porn is use to achieve a sexual high, and before long it becomes boring, and then something else is needed to achieve it. Like a drug addict who looks for the next better high!

      Before social media and the Internet, getting hold of porn was difficult, so it wasn’t as damaging as it is now. Now, we can all access it any time of the day…and not just adults…we can have access to child porn, and even animals! This is to feed us the next high!

      I believe strongly this ‘desensitising’ has led to higher rape, abuse and murder rates than ever before.

      In today’s society things that were dirty secrets 30 years ago are now the norm….like tesco selling a book like 50 shades to teenagers and no one batting an eyelid! Only through strong woman like vicky, who are willing to take a stand and voice concern and shame today’s society into seeing there own corruption, do we have any hope for the future.

      Much love, Karmen xx

      PS, so glad your back x

      • Tanya 6th August, 2013 at 10:55 am #

        Karmen, I just want to cheer in every word you write. Thank you!

    7. Ben Trovato 5th August, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

      One thing you you are missing – and perhaps it takes a man to say this – is the damage that pornography does to men, as well as women. Men’s imaginations are very susceptible to visual sexual stimulation, resulting in mental (at least) masturbation and (temporary) sexual satisfaction. Moreover, the law of diminishing returns comes into play, where stronger and stronger stimulation is required to get the same sexual ‘high.’ This can result in a man finding it harder and harder to enjoy normal loving intimacy, as it does not meet the fantasy expectations and standards set by porn. Pornographers, of course, make their living by stimulating and feeding this heightened need for gratification. But it corrupts men’s imaginations, their ability to relate to real women in a healthy way, their intimate relationships… And it is no surprise that in some cases, that damage spills out into real life in terrible ways.

      • Tanya 6th August, 2013 at 10:56 am #

        Thank you – I think you are definitely right to highlight the potentially addictive nature of pornography. It seems like this has happened on a massive scale, which is why the ‘norm’ and best-selling adult DVDs are violent pornography, as it is what you ‘progress’ onto.

    8. Karen 5th August, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

      Thank you Tanya
      I think you may remember that my friend was raped and murdered as a direct result of someone using porn. He acknowledged this at the trial.

      Whenever we stand up against porn, we may expect horrific attacks of various natures. The enemy does not like his most effective stronghold to be taken away.
      Blessings

      • Tanya 6th August, 2013 at 10:57 am #

        Thank you so much for sharing this valuable testimony. For all those who are saying that porn is harmless, they need to remember this.

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